Number of cannabis users worldwide by region 2009-2017

There are currently over 219 million cannabis users worldwide. The highest number of cannabis users can be found in Asia, followed by Africa and then the Americas. The use of cannabis varies depending on the country and region as laws surrounding the sale and use of the drug differ greatly. Some countries and regions maintain harsh penalties for the sale and use of cannabis while others have decriminalized it and more recently even completely legalized it for recreational sale and use.


Cannabis is by far the most used illicit drug worldwide. Cannabis produces physical and mental effects that change a user’s perception, heighten mood and increase appetite, but can also cause anxiety and paranoia. There has been increased interest in cannabis as a medicine in recent years, with a number of countries legalizing it for this purpose. As a medicine it has been found to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, reduce chronic pain, and improve appetite.

Legal cannabis in North America

Canada as well as a growing number of U.S. states have recently legalized the sale and use of recreational cannabis. Worldwide legal cannabis spending is predicted to reach some 31.7 billion U.S. dollars by the year 2022, with the United States and Canada accounting for the vast majority of this market. The state of Washington alone is expected to have sales worth almost 2.3 billion dollars in recreational cannabis in 2020, the highest of any U.S. state.

Estimated number of cannabis users worldwide from 2009 to 2017, by region (in millions)*

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Release date

June 2019



Survey time period

2009 to 2017

Age group

15-64 years

Supplementary notes

* This statistic includes all persons who consumed cannabis at least once in the particular year. All numbers are maximum estimates.
Data prior to 2017 have been taken from previous editions of the same source.

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